The Highlights

  • The first major international tournament of the year is ready to start its main stage.
  • Six teams play a double round-robin group stage, which is followed by a four-team playoff.
  • Each region fields only one team, so the national pride and intensity of these events are elevated.

The Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) main event is here. Over the next nine days, there will be 33 matches to bet and 11 daily fantasy slates to play. Aside from the world championships, this is the biggest League of Legends event of the year.

If you’re new to esports, check out my League introduction. While this piece is focused primarily on League betting, it certainly has relevance to daily fantasy as well. For some evergreen insight specifically related to League DFS, take a look at my piece on the three biggest esports DFS mistakes and how to avoid them.

 

Last week, when I watched 116 games to gather data for the MSI Play-In, I won +7 betting units and $3,800 in DFS thanks to several first-place finishes in the $50 Counter Gank and $100 Power Spike, which are the biggest guaranteed prize pools offered in League fantasy.

Here are my breakdowns for the six MSI teams and my picks for the event.

EVOS

  • Region: Vietnam
  • Kills per win: 15.5
  • Deaths per loss: 18.3
  • Average minutes per game: 30.2
  • Combined kills per minute: 0.91
  • First blood percentage: 41%
  • Dragon control: 43%

Roster (Most Played Champion) and Kill Participation

  • Top: Stark (Camille), 59.2%
  • Jungle: Yijin (Sejuani), 70.6%
  • Mid:  Warzone (Azir), 60.4%
  • ADC: Slay (Ezreal), 61.3%
  • Support: RonOP (Taric), 64.1%

I ill-fatedly predicted on Twitter that EVOS would lose in the semifinals 3-0. Even though they pulled out a victory my opinion on them hasn’t changed. EVOS is the weakest team in the event, and even in their win over SuperMassive they looked sloppy. I imagine that EVOS might sneak out a couple of wins through pure aggression, but I definitely don’t expect to be betting on them. They are, though, one of the bloodiest teams in the tournament, frequently competing in high-kill games, making all of their opponents great teams to stack in DFS.

Team Liquid

  • Region: North America
  • Kills per win: 12.9
  • Deaths per loss: 14
  • Average minutes per game: 34.1
  • Combined kills per minute: 0.52
  • First blood percentage: 60%
  • Dragon control: 63%

Roster (Most Played Champion) and Kill Participation

  • Top: Impact (Gnar), 71%
  • Jungle: Xmithie (Sejuani), 76.5%
  • Mid:  Pobelter (Azir), 74.4%
  • Adc: Doublelift  (Tristana), 75.9%
  • Support: Olleh (Braum), 72.9%

I wasn’t impressed with Team Liquid during the regular split despite their North American LCS win. They were a “jack of all trades” team that wasn’t particularly great at any one facet of the game, but they also weren’t terrible. Even though they aren’t my favorite team, they are vastly undervalued in the betting market, which makes them intriguing in their matchups against the higher-rated teams. They aren’t particularly bloody, so for DFS they’re not an ideal team to stack unless you think they can win as underdogs.

Fnatic

  • Region: Europe
  • Kills per win:  13.6
  • Deaths per loss: 15.8
  • Average minutes per game: 39.9
  • Combined kills per minute: 0.52
  • First blood percentage: 78%
  • Dragon control: 61%

Roster (Most Played Champion) and Kill Participation

  • Top: Soaz (Ornn/ChoGath), 61.7%
  • Jungle: Broxah (Sejuani), 73.2%
  • Mid:  Caps (Zoe/Corki/Azir), 70%
  • ADC: Rekless (Tristana), 76.4%
  • Support: Hyllisang (Braum), 69%

Fnatic (pictured above) is my sleeper of the tournament and the absolute best in the world at implementing their game plan, which tends to revolve around drafting late-game compositions and staying alive until they are strong enough to win. If Fnatic sticks to that strategy in the tournament, I think they should be a favorite against almost every team they face. They are prone to getting behind early, which can be scary, but they have a world-class late game, and I like them to overperform here. Because their games go so long, they tend to do well as DFS plays, and I plan to use them a lot in the upcoming week.

Royal Never Give Up

  • Region: China
  • Kills per win: 14.4
  • Deaths per loss: 14.8
  • Average minutes per game: 34.3
  • Combined kills per minute: 0.63
  • First blood percentage: 56%
  • Dragon control: 62%

Roster (Most Played Champion) and Kill Participation

  • Top: LetMe (Ornn), 59.6%
  • Jungle: MLXG (Sejuani), 74.2%
  • Mid: Xiaohu (Ryze), 68.4%
  • ADC: Uzi (Ezreal), 73.7%
  • Support: Ming (Tahm Kench), 72.2%

Almost every analyst has Royal as the second-best team in the tournament, and I don’t disagree, but they are inconsistent. Royal have had their struggles this season, regularly switching lineups and waiting on the return of their superstar ADC Uzi. They are likely to blow out a lot of teams, but they could also fall victim to an upset at the hands of Liquid, EVOS, or Flash Wolves. Although they’ve toned it down a bit recently, Royal is a bloody team and one to stack in DFS.

KINGZONE Dragon X

  • Region: South Korea
  • Kills per win: 13.3
  • Deaths per loss: 13.3
  • Average minutes per game: 36.5
  • Combined kills per minute: 0.52
  • First blood percentage: 60%
  • Dragon control: 71%

Roster (Most Played Champion) and Kill Participation

  • Top: Khan (Gnar), 61.1%
  • Jungle: Peanut (Sejuani), 79%
  • Mid: BDD (Ryze), 72.4%
  • ADC: Pray (Ezreal), 70.4%
  • Support: Gorilla (Braum), 68.9%

KINGZONE DragonX is the best team in the world, but ironically the way to make money this weekend is to avoid them. The consummate chalk, they tend to have moneyline odds far too lopsided to bet, and they aren’t sufficiently bloody to have enough DFS value relative to their salaries and especially their high ownership rates in most GPPs. They are tempting, but don’t be seduced: There’s a difference between being a good team and a good bet. In fact, it’s not uncommon for me to avoid them in DFS and bet against them simply to take advantage of the unreal odds they afford their opponents.

Flash Wolves

  • Region: Taiwan
  • Kills per win: 13.6
  • Deaths per loss: 12.6
  • Average minutes per game: 36.5
  • Combined kills per minute: 0.54
  • First blood percentage: 60%
  • Dragon control: 71%

Roster (Most Played Champion) and Kill Participation

  • Top: Hanabi (Gnar), 61.6%
  • Jungle: Moojin (Sejuani), 68.6%
  • Mid: Maple (Ryze), 70.3%
  • ADC: Betty (Ezreal), 75.9%
  • Support: SwordArt (Braum), 71.8%

Although they’re not the worst team in the group, Flash Wolves are probably the least exciting. They are a mainstay of the international scene, usually ending up in the middle of the pack, which they’ll probably do here. They aren’t a high-kill team, but they are bloodier than Liquid and KINGZONE. They average the same number of kills in wins as Fnatic, but since their games are shorter they generally provide less DFS value.

Predictions and Picks

  1. KINGZONE DragonX, 9-1
  2. Royal Never Give Up, 7-3
  3. Fnatic, 6-4
  4. Team Liquid, 4-6
  5. Flash Wolves, 3-7
  6. EVOS, 1-9

The odds for additional matchups won’t be posted until Friday’s games are finished, but for the first set of games I’ve bet the following at Bovada:

  • Fnatic +195 vs. Royal Never Give Up (Fri. 5/11, 5:00 am ET): This line opened at +150, which is where I first bet it, so although this might be a risk-seeking bet I love the value as well as the combination of Fnatic’s style and Royal’s inconsistency.
  • Prop bet: First Inhibitor – Fnatic +190 vs. Royal Never Give Up (Fri. 5/11, 5:00 am ET): This is similar to the moneyline, since the team that wins usually gets the first Inhibitor, but it’s possible Fnatic could get it in a losing effort.
  • Flash Wolves -225 vs. EVOS (Fri. 5/11, 6:00 am ET): I bet this line heavily when it was released, but it has since been taken off the board. If it is reposted, jump on it. EVOS are terrible, and I’m willing to bet against them at even reduced odds. They aren’t on the level of any other MSI team.
  • Prop bet: First Inhibitor – Team Liquid +475 vs. KINGZONE DragonX (Fri. 5/11, 7:00 am ET): This bet is scary, since KINGZONE should, in theory, demolish everyone, but there’s a high degree of correlation between winning and getting the first Inhibitor, and I don’t think any top professional team should be close to a 5-1 underdog in a single game. Liquid could easily go with an alternate strategy and do something KINGZONE wasn’t expecting or pick up a triple on the invade and win this game, so I’m happy to take the risk at great odds. I prefer this bet to the moneyline (+385).

Given the round-robin style of the tournament, my thoughts on teams might change throughout the event, and that would be reflected in the wagers I make. As the MSI advances, I’ll update my prospective picks in this article.

We’ve got nine days of some fantastic action ahead of us. Let’s enjoy the sweet rarity of international League! Until next time, see you on the rift.